Aug 18, 2019 | Updated: 07:24 AM EDT

Diabetes Could Effect Brain Growth in Children

Dec 31, 2014 03:07 PM EST

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While many are familiar with the not-so-sweet implications of diabetes, a new study reveals that children suffering with Type-1 diabetes may in fact have slower brain growth and development than children without the glucose-to-insulin imbalance.  

Children between the ages of four and nine years old were included in the study, each of which went through brain tests and scans that were designed to assess their mental capacity and ability, as well as their blood sugar levels which were regularly monitored as part of the study.

When put side-by-side with children who did not have diabetes, researchers discovered that the brains of the children with the disease had reduced regional and overall white and grey matter growth.  According to researchers, these growth variations were related to more reliable and higher blood sugar levels in the children.  However, scientists were unable to determine any major differences in the cognitive abilities such as memory and thinking skills between the two sets of children.

In a clinic news release, the Jacksonville, Fla., Nemours Children Clinic's chief of the division of metabolism, diabetes, and endocrinology, and lead author of the research Dr. Nelly Mauras stated their results indicated the likely vulnerability of the brains of children to increase glucose levels in the blood.

Mauras went on to say that despite the best efforts of both researchers and parents, almost half of all blood sugar levels that were measured contained high concentrations of blood glucose during the study.  

"Remarkably, the tests of cognition remained normal, but if these changes that were observed would ultimately and eventually impact the functions of the brain would require additional research" Mauras says.

She further added that technology continues to improve giving hope that the variations observed could be eliminated with the better control of blood sugar levels in children with type 1 diabetes.

In a press release, Dr. Karen Winer a co-author of the study and US National Institute of Human Development and Child Health's pediatric endocrinologist stated that this study was the one of the things that parents of the children always concerned themselves whenever it had to do with children with illnesses that are chronic.

She continued by saying that these parents would wonder about the effects of diabetes on their child's brain.  In her opinion, the results of this study are good news, as they are some solutions on the horizon that should be able to help children suffering from the disease. And these new solutions should be made known to concerned parents. 

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